The disappearing files of the Salvadoran armed forces

El Salvador's military denied today that it has improperly destroyed documents relating to war crimes during El Salvador's bloody civil war.    Last week the Institute for Access to Public Information (IAIP) reported that it had asked the attorney general to investigate whether the defense ministry and the national archive had destroyed military files from the war.  The specific documents in question deal with a massacre in the cantón San Francisco Angulo in Tecoluca, San Vicente, on July 25, 1981.   IAIP says the documents were destroyed sometime in 2015 or 2016.

Commenting on the matter, the Secretary of Participation, Transparency and Anti-corruption, indicated that it was an ongoing problem that Salvadoran government officials did not preserve documents, and that such a practice had to be changed in order to improve transparency.

The Minister of Defense, David Munguia Payes was quoted as saying that in fact large portions of the military records from the war had disappeared or been destroyed during prior ARENA governments.    
Former Salvadoran ambassador to the US, Ernesto Rivas, noted in his blog that any such destruction of documents was a crime under Salvadoran law and should be treated as such.

The Salvadoran armed forces have now issued their response, saying that any destruction of documents had been done according to the law and approved by the national archive and that no documents "of historical value" had been destroyed.

Records of the army could be very important in determining command responsibility for some of the massacres and war crimes which occurred during the civil war.  Yet I have my doubts that many of those records will still exist when, and if, Salvadoran courts ever begin to hear such cases.